What makes cynics...cynical?

There’s some types people I understand. Then there are types of people who I don’t understand. Cynics are one type.

Why drives some people to compulsively question others’ motives? What do they gain by expecting the worst?

I used to think it was because these people have been screwed over a lot in their lives. Then I recognized that I too have been screwed over a lot in my life, but I’m still not that cynical. I think there are other factors.

If you know a lot of cynical people or are cynical yourself, please educate me. :slight_smile:

Years of experience and a firm grasp of reality. :smiley:

For me it’s not a case of choosing to be cynical; I don’t actively want to question people’s motives or assume the worst, it’s just who I am.

I think you’re right in saying being screwed over a lot in your life is likely to make you cynical; if you’re constantly exposed to the worst, then assuming it is perfectly reasonable. I think though there’s the added group of people like me who haven’t had too bad lives, but are just cynical bastards. :slight_smile:

What about young people? I think there’s more young cynics than older ones.

I’m often cynical. Life experience has a lot to do with it, and my occupation is highly conducive to it as well. When you deal with the general public in high stress situations, you see people at their worst. To a certain extent, becoming a cynic is a defense mechanism.

The older ones stop questioning people’s motives and just assume everybody has bad intentions. :wink: Or it could very well be a generational thing.

Personally? I’m not sure how well I can explain it. Part of it is a desire to know what I’m talking about instead of just being persuaded, and a desire not to be taken advantage of.

The cynical answer:

Everyone else. :stuck_out_tongue:

That’s pretty understandable. But, what about the cases when there’s little or no personal involvement. Has anyone visited televisionwithoutpity.com? There’s a LOT of cynical people there, yet it is highly unlikely that any of them will come in contact with those they seem to be so critical of. I was apalled to find out that some of them believed that this girl from the real world lied about having cancer just to get camera time. However, there’s zero evidence that this girl lied.

Expect the worst, and you’re never disappointed.

Does that matter?

I doubt that’s the way they feel about it.

If you scratch a cynic, you’ll find a romantic. It’s the constant disappointment of being faced with reality-as-it-is when you’re expecting reality-as-it-should-be that layers the cynic’s armor around him, like nacre over a grain of sand in the mantle of an oyster.

Bitter disappointment and shattered idealism.

Well said. Poetic, and true.

The common phrase is actually “an idealist,” but I’m quite open - at least with myself, I’m not sure other people get it - about being a romantic and an idealist. I’ve always rejected the “disappointed” description.

Wow, that was beautiful. wipes a tear

It would have been more beautiful if I knew what “nacre” was.

Cynicism is cheap, that’s why.

People consider me a cynic, but I just see myself as a realist. I find people who aren’t what is considered cynical to be pretty dim. My brother and sister are both kind of idealistic and I am constantly amazed at how much of life is just going completely over their heads. I feel that cynical is just another term for smart.

Molluscan scarring. A beautiful sheen to scars most valuable. Clam spittle and irritation.

Nacre–See also: mother of pearl.

I was going to ask this question just last week of y’all. Glad to see it posted. My experience with cynics is that they run the gamut from the “I recognise the irony/idealism vs. reality in your statement, but I choose not to illustrate it to you, preferring to enjoy my cynical awareness all by myself”, to “I hear the devil on my shoulder whispering and so I feel I must echo his refrain out loud to you for your own enlightenment”, to “I cannot shout out loudly enough, or at enough length, about my recognition of (anyone’s) foolish fantasy notions, both for my own amusement and for the betterment of mankind!” And if you cannot fail to point out your OWN crossing of the line into unreality about a situation from time to time, you are called self-deprecating, which is my own favorite “brand” of cynicism.

I felt myself to be a fairly cynical individual until my b/f came along to prove to me that I’m a hapless Pollyanna in comparison to his finely-honed and acerbic cynicism. I concede defeat at his hands. It’s quite attractive, actually.


I’m a cynic and an optimist and an idealist and a romantic all at the same time. I’ma cynic because of the other three things…I have to protect myself somehow. So I hope for the best but expect the worst. I’ve got a sensitive little heart, it needs walls.